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Sanders: Senate may use budget reconciliation to pass Biden agenda

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief Murkowski never told White House she would oppose Tanden Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief MORE (I-Vt.), the incoming Senate Budget Committee chairman, said on Sunday that Senate Democrats would use a tactic known as budget reconciliation to pass parts of President Biden's agenda if Republicans refuse to support Biden's plans.

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Sanders welcomed the prospect of Republican support for the president's plan for an economic recovery package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but warned that the GOP had set a precedent with its use of the tactic, which allows senators to approve certain tax and spending bills with a simple majority and sidestep the 60-vote threshold needed for most legislation, while President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE was in office.

"Now, as you know, reconciliation, which is a Senate rule, was used by the Republicans under Trump to pass massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations. It was used as an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And what we're saying is 'You used for that. That's fine. We are going to use reconciliation. ... You did it. We're going to do it to protect ordinary people, not the rich and the powerful,'" said the senator.

"The American people are hurting, and they want us to act," he continued, adding, "We have got to restore the faith of the American people in government that we can respond to their pain."

Sanders, a 2020 presidential candidate, offered words of praise for Biden's first week in office and signaled that he would not go as far as some members of the left wing of the House Democratic Caucus in calling for direct payments to Americans to be increased by $2,000 rather than the $1,400 outlined in Biden's plan.

He also addressed now-viral photos of his cozy attire during Biden's inauguration last week, telling CNN that he expected to raise more than $1 million for charities serving Vermont's elderly and vulnerable populations through sales of T-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the meme.